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I want to know how much a loaf of bread would cost in Amsterdam in the year 1645.

Preferably I'd like the pricing of a bakery near the harbor but a comparison of the bread prices between the harbor bakeries and the bakeries in the rural backland of Amsterdam could be interesting.

I've searched online but I didn't find anything. Any help would be appreciated

  • "backland" get 1,830,000 Google hits and "hinterland", a compound noun beginning with a German preposition that is not otherwise used in English as far as I know, gets 21,100,000. I don't know that I've ever seen "backland" before, although the meaning is self-explanatory. – Michael Hardy Jul 8 at 23:56
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    @MichaelHardy To be fair, "Hinterland" is a German word, so the German websites will skew that search result as far as English usage is concerned.. – DevSolar Jul 9 at 4:48
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    luckily google already have corpus' split by language for us to look at. Google n-grams places hinterland vastly more common than backland, even moreso than google search results: books.google.com/ngrams/… – Tristan Jul 9 at 10:26
  • omg --- You can restrict the book search to works of fiction!! They didn't have that feature last time I checked. – Michael Hardy Jul 9 at 19:35
  • wtf ???? The Google Books ngram view can restrict a search to works of fiction but an advanced search of Google Books cannot?? books.google.com/advanced_book_search – Michael Hardy Jul 9 at 20:05
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According to this database (specifically the spreadsheet file, column D) a 100kg of rye bread cost 8.22 guilder in the western Netherlands in 1645, which should at least give you a rough idea to start with. (Here is the same spreadsheet shared on Google Docs for convenience). Using @JustCal's suggestion of 3lb per loaf, this works out to roughly 0.1 guilder per loaf.

I think your best bet for more info is to look at the work of Jan de Vries, for example the article "Taxing the Staff of Life: The Dutch bread tax, 1574-1855" and the book The Price of Bread: Regulating the Market in the Dutch Republic.

EDIT: Regarding wages, this page on "Money in the 17th century Netherlands" claims, "An outdoor laborer earned 6.50 guilders per week... A master carpenter earned 9 guilders per week... Wages did not change for 150 years." I am fairly certain de Vries has more data on wages and I will update if I can track this down.

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    As a note, a 3lb loaf of bread is a really big loaf. Most home-baked loaves are 1.5–2lb. – chrylis -cautiouslyoptimistic- Jul 8 at 23:51
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    @chrylis-cautiouslyoptimistic- Aye, but you are a likely weak developer with noodly arms, not a strong sailor! – pipe Jul 9 at 2:08
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    @pipe I don't see what spinach has to do with this! – chrylis -cautiouslyoptimistic- Jul 9 at 2:08
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    To provide context, it would be really useful to include the average wage for the time period, otherwise we don't know whether 8 guilders is a huge sum of money or pocket change. – vsz Jul 9 at 6:23
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    @vsz In addition, did Jan Modaal (=Joe Sixpack) in Amsterdam 1645 actually buy bread, or would they have been more likely to bake their own, with the luxury of buying bread limited to the bourgeoisie? – gerrit Jul 9 at 8:12
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I don't think you're going to find anything close to the precision you are asking for here. And as DevSolar has commented I think you are way off the mark by specifying prices in gold.

I do have one example for you though: In his Autobiography Benjamin Franklin recounts his journey as a young man in 1723 from Boston to Philadelphia by way of New York (and accidentally Brooklyn). He has walked, rowed, sailed etc for days and days. He famously accounts his arrival in Philadelphia as follows (emphasis mine):

I was very hungry; and my whole stock of cash consisted of a Dutch dollar, and about a shilling in copper. The latter I gave the people of the boat for my passage, who at first refus'd it, on account of my rowing; but I insisted on their taking it. A man being sometimes more generous when he has but a little money than when he has plenty, perhaps thro' fear of being thought to have but little.

Then I walked up the street, gazing about till near the market-house I met a boy with bread. I had made many a meal on bread, and, inquiring where he got it, I went immediately to the baker's he directed me to, in Second-street, and ask'd for bisket, intending such as we had in Boston; but they, it seems, were not made in Philadelphia. Then I asked for a three-penny loaf, and was told they had none such. So not considering or knowing the difference of money, and the greater cheapness nor the names of his bread, I bade him give me three-penny worth of any sort. He gave me, accordingly, three great puffy rolls. I was surpris'd at the quantity, but took it, and, having no room in my pockets, walk'd off with a roll under each arm, and eating the other. Thus I went up Market-street as far as Fourth-street, passing by the door of Mr. Read, my future wife's father; when she, standing at the door, saw me, and thought I made, as I certainly did, a most awkward, ridiculous appearance. Then I turned and went down Chestnut-street and part of Walnut-street, eating my roll all the way, and, coming round, found myself again at Market-street wharf, near the boat I came in, to which I went for a draught of the river water; and, being filled with one of my rolls, gave the other two to a woman and her child that came down the river in the boat with us, and were waiting to go farther.

Philadelphia in 1723 is not Amsterdam in 1645 but you get the general idea... (at least we are near a harbour): bread is sold by the penny not the gold piece.

Some things to note:

The price of bread in Philadelphia is substantially lower (3x?) than in his native Boston.

The types of bread offered in the two places is different, this may make your comparisons difficult even if you find the data.

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